It’s safe to say that it’s been a rough year for CCP Games, with the company pulling out of VR game development and laying off around 100 staff worldwide. The entire EVE Online
community team was reported to have been slashed down to just two employees, and many of the studio’s most experienced PR staff were let go when the Atlanta office was shuttered. EVE
players (including me
) came down hard on CCP and on CEO Hilmar Veigar Petursson in particular, and some inside the company were notably shaken.
EVE Online Community Manager Paul “CCP Falcon” Elsy was one of the few members of the community team left after the layoffs, suddenly finding himself organising the 15th anniversary Fanfest without a team. It’s now been almost five months since the layoffs, so I caught up with Paul at EVE Fanfest 2018 recently to find out how the company has coped with the loss of so many skilled community staff. He also clarified CCP’s role in tackling harassment outside the game client in the wake of a recent virtual scuffle on the Open Comms show, and gave a fascinating account of how Hilmar himself dealt with the recent layoffs and how he’s been getting more involved with EVE lately.
Read on for our massive in-depth interview with EVE‘s Community Manager Paul “CCP Falcon” Elsy.
Every day in the sandbox of New Eden, several hundred thousand EVE Online
players perform millions of unseen actions. Every item manufactured, module activated, shot fired at an NPC, and stargate activated leaves its mark on the universe, but the granular details of those actions is lost forever. It simply isn’t feasible to record every little thing a player does in-game, or at least it wasn’t feasible until now. At EVE Fanfest 2018
, CCP announced an innocuous new Activity Tracker feature that may actually eventually have big consequences for everything from game balance to fighting bots.
The feature will be delivered as a new Activity Tracker window in the game client that will show players detailed stats on almost everything they’ve done in-game since the tracker went live. This in itself is useful, both for helping players set goals and for highlighting other areas of the game they might not have given a fair shake yet and so might enjoy. Behind the scenes, the way that CCP is collecting this detailed data and the implications of its use are really fascinating, and there are even plans to use machine learning to look for patterns in this data that would help identify bots.
Read on for a breakdown of exactly how masses of new data is being captured on EVE players, and how it could be put to use in the future.
One of the most common comments you’ll see in articles about big events in EVE Online
is that it’s a lot more entertaining to read about than to play, and that’s certainly true if what you’re reading is Empires of EVE
. Written by EVE
Historian Andrew Groen back in 2015 and published thanks to the support of over 3,000 players through a crowdfunding campaign
, Empires of EVE tells the story of some of EVE
‘s earliest and most deadly wars and political schisms.
Cutting through all of the propaganda and player self-motivations in a political sandbox like EVE is no small task, and it’s complicated by over a decade of shifting loyalties, misinformation, propaganda, and misremembered events. Andrew is uniquely equipped to cut through many of those issues, collecting as accurate historical records as possible and delivering it all as a coherent, deeply compelling narrative that even plenty of non-players have thoroughly enjoyed. Andrew recently announced that Empires of EVE had broken the 15,000 sales mark, and at EVE Fanfest 2018 he announced a sequel is now in the works.
I caught up with Andrew at Fanfest to find out how the first book’s success has affected him and what the future holds for Empires of EVE: Volume II.
Of all the fascinating things the EVE Online community has embraced over the game’s almost 15-year lifetime, perhaps the most bizarre is space pope Max Singularity. The character of the space pope started out as a joke among players who discovered Max doling out words of worldly wisdom in the in-game chat channels and counselling players who were going through tough times. This most cutthroat of online communities embraced Max’s kindness, and he embraced his new in-game role as a religious leader of the Amarr empire.
The space pope is actually NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory employee Charles White in real life, but at EVE Fanfest 2018 this week he was in full papal garb with an entourage of space monks and space nuns. If you’ve never heard of the space pope, well, I promise I am not making this up. Today at Fanfest, lucky EVE players Tairon Usaro and Irma Amatin were married by the space pope himself in a traditional Amarrian ceremony in front of hundreds of onlookers. Skip past the cut for a short video about the wedding.
EVE Fanfest 2018
has just kicked off here in
Reykjavik, and MassivelyOP is on the ground once again to bring you the latest on the future of EVE Online
. While Fanfest is primarily a community event and a chance for players to meet their in-game friends in the flesh, this year’s event also promises to be packed with some big news and exciting announcements.
The main talks and presentations will all be streamed live from the event, the most important of which is the announcement-packed EVE Keynote. The keynote presentation will go live just a few minutes after this post goes live, and you can tune in now via CCP’s official twitch channel or the embed after the cut. If there’s something that you’re particularly excited for or if you have any questions you’d like us to pose to developers, let us know in the comments!
When CCP Games first made the leap into the first person shooter market with DUST 514, things didn’t exactly go to plan. The game was released as a PlayStation 3 exclusive toward the end of the console’s lifetime and fell severely short of expectations. While DUST 514 was eventually discontinued, the dream of a first person shooter in the EVE Online universe has been kept alive at CCP. Two years ago, the company announced that a total remake of DUST 514 was underway under the name Project Nova, and this time it would be released on PC.
Today at EVE Fanfest 2018, CCP Games’ CEO Hilmar Veigar Petursson revealed that Nova will be coming “in months, not years.” The game should hopefully be playable in some form this year, and the initial release will focus on core FPS gameplay in an EVE setting rather than being directly connected to the EVE server. CCP hopes for the game to stand on its own feet before slowly integrating it into EVE — first via social integration, and later through economy links and other gameplay links. No new content was shown off for Nova this year, but CCP has started a newsletter for those who want to get in on the ground floor.
Everyone knows that the various people portraying characters at PAX East are just there to portray a character. That’s not who they really are. Just because an attractive young woman is dressed up as a character in a way that cleverly circumvents the event’s ostensible policy against “booth babes” does not mean that she is actually a bounty hunter, for example. (She could be, though. We’ve all got side hustles.) So it should come as no great surprise that the Guild Wars 2 griffon was itself playing a part, just like the other actors on the floor.
I was lucky enough to sit down for an interview with “Feathers” (it specified that its real name would break my eardrums) on the show floor, and since I was sitting very still to avoid triggering its instinctive hunting reflexes, I could also record everything it said perfectly. So please, to cap off our PAX East experience, enjoy my interview with this mythical creature of sand and wind.
Those who have read a fair amount of my work will know that nostalgia is something I tend to rail against pretty hard. I’m a big advocate for constantly spot-checking your nostalgia in the cold light of reality and asking yourself if your memories are accurate.
This is not because I don’t feel any nostalgia. It’s exactly the opposite. It’s because I am wildly aware of how powerful a force it can be as someone who often will spend extended amounts of time working in elaborate mythology gags for character traits based on old roleplaying, to the extent that one of my characters has a particular class as a reference to an old game no one else I know actually played.
All of this is a long-winded way of pointing out that Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen already had a bit of an in with me when I sat down to play. Because while I wasn’t personally familiar with the game that it was referencing, I am personally familiar with that game’s close cousin, and I have a fair amount of familiarity with the playstyle. And it’s a playstyle MMOs have, in large part, moved beyond.
My experience with Rend last year felt a bit like stepping into a faerie circle and slipping into another world, sneaking up to a rather secret meeting in a restaurant on the Boston pier and seeing this game that at once seemed like a very obvious take on a familiar formula while also being immediately appealing to me personally. So it was a given that I would go back, and I can confirm that the fish restaurant itself was very real; I had some fried fish. It was tasty.
Of course, by that point I had already seen Rend again because it had a booth on the show floor showing off what it had on offer.
I didn’t get to actually play the game on the show floor this year, but I did get a guided tour through all of the things that the game had gone through in the year since I had seen it. As I was told repeatedly, when I saw the game then, it was the work of five guys crammed into a basement working on something. Now, though, the game is approaching something much bigger, better, and brighter.
This year’s PAX East featured a lot of games early in their testing phase, but Ashes of Creation was one that had splurged for a very large booth toward the center of the show floor. And let’s be fair here; the game sure looked like it was ready for prime time. Between the animations on display and the general look of playing the game for onlookers, this is the sort of game that, at a glance, certainly did not look like something in pre-alpha. All of its graphical polish was being shown off to great effect.
Of course, looking good is one thing. The real question was how it played. But that was why the game also had demo stations set up, so that players could see what the game looked like in its current state of development and get a feel for the game from the PvE side and the PvP side.
I took a tour of a brief PvE dungeon with a GM assisting our party and three other people, which served as my chance to get a handle on what the game was offering. Of course, this was also a very early test build, so there’s no doubt a lot that’s going to be changing over time. But it did, at least, feel like a good fundamental base for combat.
One of the fun parts of this job – or one of the odd parts, depending on how you prioritize things – is how you can agree with absolutely every point someone else is making while having an exactly opposite reaction. You may recall that Andrew tried out the build
of The Elder Scrolls Online: Summerset
and walked away with a shrug, which to a certain portion of the ESO
fanbase is apparently a vile insult (demos are serious business). I guess if your reaction isn’t fawning adulation of ESO
, you hate the game, or something. I’ve never gotten that one myself
At any rate, the fact is that I agree with Andrew on this point. I even agree with his overall conclusion. But my walk-away conclusion is altogether different; I found myself impressed with what the game was doing and thinking that this was going to be a pretty good expansion. It might not have anything as show-stoppingly novel as the Warden, but you can’t give every single expansion a bear-based class, I assume. (There has to be some reason.)
At this year’s PAX East, I discovered that my mental picture of Casey McGeever did not match the actual man in person, but that was a positive thing; meeting the man himself, he projects an aura of warmth and earnestness that’s almost impossibly infectious. Not that it should be all that surprising, as he’s spent so much time talking about the strength of community when it comes to building up the base behind Ship of Heroes as a whole.
McGeever and I had an opportunity to speak about a number of issues surrounding the City of Heroes-inspired superhero MMO, starting with some talk about the game’s roadmap moving through the remainder of the year. The roadmap covers the past few months and recent known developments, but it had to be delayed slightly while the team pushed through the early stages of pre-alpha, engine upgrades, and the associated tasks. Now we’re into April, and it’s time for the community to see what’s on the docket for the next three months.
It’s not every day that you walk into a building dominated by an enormous griffon, the enormous statue replicating the mount in Guild Wars 2: Path of Fire
. You could, of course, argue that the griffon is functionally an upgraded version of the glider from Heart of Thorns
, but that just brings you back to the idea that Path of Fire
is closer to what people wanted from Heart of Thorns
in the first place. It’s a bigger expansion for people not interested in the rather narrow focus of the jungle.
Which makes sense, since according to the game director, Mike Zadorojny, the focus of what the expansion was meant to be about was radically different between the two expansions, and Path of Fire was closer to an expansion of the base game.
I had the chance to sit with Zadorojny and chat about various issues of both current development ant future direction, although we did not have that chat on the back of the griffon. (There were people waiting in line.) But considering the nature of the griffon and the talk, it might have been appropriate.